What I Do When I Can’t Walk (Run Recovery)

So, yesterday my Type A / hardcore chick came out with my post on half marathon training! I definitely turn into a beast when I have a goal, but I’m not always that way. Case in point: It is currently 9:41pm, my mind is whirring, and I’m basically a lunatic with a laptop and a foam roller.

I do have big running goals, but I also don’t take running all that seriously. This shows when I do things like:

  • Long run on Saturday: during which the last 2 miles of my 10 miler felt like marathon and I almost stopped to walk 30.3 times –> it was not an easy jaunt.
  • Squat PR on Sunday: I woke up with no soreness, so I decided to hit the gym! (weekends are the only day the squat rack is ever free).

WELL, it turns out that when you do things like that, your legs start to hurt. A LOT. In an effort to not hobble around like an eighty-seven year old man, I’ve been taking some measures to help loosen up the poor fellows.

1. Slow recovery run. Since I only run 4x per week, I usually go fast-ish (for me) every time. NOT yesterday. I’m not even going to tell you what my pace was because it doesn’t matter – I just focused on getting that lactic acid outta there, and pretended that the ground was massaging my legs.

2. Foam roll all day. I know everyone says to foam roll, but I don’t mean one 10-15 minute session and then you’re done for the day. Every time I made it back to my room, I hopped on that thing and worked out a few more kinks. I probably did it 5-6 times and it is a godsend.

3. Torture Device Extraordinaire. AKA this magic ball. It has been a godsend with shin splits, but also areas like the balls of my feet and hipbones that a foam roller can’t quite get to.

pro-tec-spiky-massage-ball-web-h1_1

4. REST! I’m doing what I should have done on Sunday –> allowing my muscles to recoup and rejuvenate. My schedule is absolutely packed today anyway so it’s not like I will be missing out.

5. Keep moving. The worst thing you can do is to sit on your butt all day. Similar to recovery runs, keeping moving / walking will encourage muscles to stay loose, springy and extended.

6. Chowing down on the good stuff. There are no magic pills that will immediately cure you of DOMS. But, making sure you are still consuming a diet of a variety of nutrients will only speed up the recovery process. Lots of dark fruits, leafy greens, and healthy fats are ideal. <– and all the water! Never forget the water.

oatsBlueberries + nut butter = power food. Now if only I could find a way to incorporate spinach into oats. 

7. ICY HOT. If all else fails, this stuff is an absolute miracle worker. I used it for years while ski racing 20-30 hours per week, and I honestly do not know what I would have done without it. It is the only way my legs did not collapse underneath me after an 8 hour training day + 2 hour dryland training session (think squats, sprints, wall-sits, etc.). I’ve never been affiliated with them – I’ve just used their product for over 10 years!

I sincerely hope you aren’t in the position to need some / all of these measures, but I’ve got you covered if you are! Have a super excellent Tuesday, and I will talk to you guys tomorrow!

What do you do the day after a hard run/workout? 

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Unstoppable Strength Workout

I am not a girl that likes to sit still. Despite being in week nine (!) of my Film Studies course, I still dread the 3.5 hours of sitting in one place. I have the attention space (or lack thereof) of a squirrel – doing one thing for too long makes me fidgety, anxious and lethargic, all at the same time.

So when faced with a day of studying, what’s a girl to do? Hit the gym, obviously (obbbbbviously). In need of a mood boost, I decided to create a workout based on all of my favourite power moves – exercises that make me feel strong and hardcore. Hence, why this is called Unstoppable Strength – you will feel dang near unstoppable!

UnstoppableStrengthWorkout

It’s a very straightforward format, because I don’t like to mess around when I workout. I get in, do my thang, and get on with my life. So the workout is comprised of four supersets, each of which you complete before moving on to the next.

I think that the majority of people are familiar with supersets, but if you aren’t, it would look like this:

  • 8 back squats –> 8 pull-ups
  • rest
  • 8 back squats –> 8 pull-ups
  • rest
  • 8 back squats –> 8 pull-ups

And then onto the split squats / dumbbell press superset! I love supersets because they allow me to rest one muscle group while still exercising – I don’t know of anyone that has time to just stand around timing rest between sets anymore. The other awesome thing about pairings like this is each muscle group truly rests. If you are combining, for example, leg extensions + deadlifts, or pull-ups + tricep extensions, some muscles never fully recover. Which has a time and place, but not for me.

I hope you try this out and love it! I can’t do strict pull-ups yet, so I use the assisted machine at the gym – but you can also do banded, jumping, or negatives. And remember that I am not (yet) a certified personal trainer, so use your best judgement and knowledge of your own abilities. 🙂

Do you have a “power move”? Back squats are my all-time favourite!

The City Gym Workout

For most of you lucky folks, your gyms are juuust starting to calm down. The massive hordes of resolution-ers have dropped off, and you can finally use your squat rack / bench / treadmill <— you know what I’m talking about!

Now, I’m not hating on the resolution-ers. I absolutely love to see people committed to starting a fitness journey. What I don’t love is not being able to move from a mat for 5 seconds before I see that someone has snagged my spot!

no3

And for some of us, that is the case year-round. There are certain places in the world: popular cities, universities, universities in popular cities that are busy everywhere, all the time.

So, with this in mind, I bring you The City Gym Workout: minimal equipment needed, all of which you can bring to a little corner of the gym and do yo thang. You could even do this at home, if you are a lucky duck with a solid setup! This is, in my opinion, an awesome workout for runners because it incorporates plyometrics, core stability, balance, and strength all in one fun lil’ package.

The usual disclaimer: while I may be a wannabe kinesiology student / personal trainer, at the moment I am neither. So please use your personal discretion and recognize that this is what works for me and may not work for you. 🙂 

Equipment: 

BOSU ball

Moderately heavy dumbbells (think bicep curl weight)

Medicine ball

Exercise mat

CityGymWorkout

Yes, I most definitely had way too much fun making this graphic. The picture is of the bridge I drove across when I showed up to Vancouver for the first time in my life! Which was also the time that I moved here. 🙂

Some notes on the exercises: 

  • For single-limb motions, do ten reps per side = twenty in total!
  • The bosu squats, russian twists, and lateral lunges can all be weighted or unweighted, depending on your fitness / energy levels
  • Bosu squats
  • Renegade rows
  • Half ball jumps
  • Please google any others that you are unsure of! Safety + proper form > all

 

I plan to do this on those days that I just can’t drag myself out of bed early enough to hit the gym before class, and have to squeeze in during peak times. Fun fact: last week my gym was at capacity, meaning I had to wait outside until someone left. #UniversityGymLife.

Have a happy Wednesday!

What do you do when someone steals “your” equipment at the gym? 

I very seriously consider making that a legitimate excuse to skip a workout…then force Mature Emma to show up and get it together.

Recognizing Overtraining

Ah, it pains me to write this post. Despite the title, I’m not actually overtrained – I think that has become a bit of an overused term – but I have definitely overworked myself these past two weeks, and am on the road to overtraining if I don’t start to be more careful.

The start of semester isn’t exactly a stressful time for most students, at least academic-wise. The first few weeks are generally “syllabus weeks” where kids skip class and party until 6am. But since I’m more of a curl up with coffee and a book kinda girl, sometimes I find myself with a bit too much free time during this period.

Too much free time? Just shut up already <– what a lot of you want to say right now. And that’s totally fine! I would have said the exact same thing in November. I don’t do well with a ton of time to myself, though. I definitely need a good amount, being fairly introverted, but if it goes beyond a certain point I tend to feel depressed, anxious, and apathetic about almost everything.

hermione-bored

One of my favourite ways to spend time is exercising.

Over the month of December, I did not exercise much at all. I got in a couple 30 minute lifting workouts per week, and a handful of 3-mile treadmill runs scattered throughout the month. I honestly just did not have time for more. I was working, doing things with my family and friends and squeezed in some activity where I could.

Right now, though, I always have time to exercise. I never have to be anywhere before 10am, and even if I might be busy until 5/6pm, I have barely any homework. So I don’t have that built in “monitor” working for me, keeping my activity level in check. Not to mention that workouts are pretty much the only thing that keep me sane in college, and help me manage anxiety / sadness.

gym-unicornJust too perfect.

That can only go so far, though. The first few days that I got back I was killing it in the gym. I felt amazing, my workouts were amazing, and all was good. But lately, they haven’t felt good at all. The time drags by, my legs feel like lead and I think I am actually losing endorphins. Not to mention the fact that my sleep has been horrible this week, I’ve been relying on 3 cups of coffee per day and feeling just generally sad / blah.

I need a break! Which is why I pretty much sat on my butt all day today. I did walk a fair amount, but that was honestly me leaving lying on my bed to go sit at a cafe, lie on my bed again, sit at the library and then back to the good ol’ bed.

(when I’m at school, my bed is a kitchen, library, office, couch, yoga studio, and oh yeah, a bed. we’re good friends.)

It definitely wasn’t easy. I’m actually sitting at the library right now with my running shoes in my bag, just in case I decide to go for an “easy workout”.

shoesThese babies are never too far away.

But what would the point of that be? I would either:

a) Do said “easy workout” by cycling on the bike for half an hour, stretching and leaving. Maybe mildly beneficial, but not as much as my brain would benefit from total rest.

b) Push myself through exercise, therefore making my exhaustion / other symptoms even worse

Nope! Not worth it. Here are some of the signs that you might be overtraining. Experiencing one or two may be okay, but several of them in combination generally spells a problem:

  • Poor sleep. You are tired all day, but once your head hits the pillow you just can’t rest. Or, alternatively, you fall asleep instantly but toss and turn all night.
  • Incurable exhausting. Maybe you sleep all night, but you still can’t beat that feeling of being just. so. tired.
  • Decreased performance. Your usual run pace slows, weights you usually use are too heavy, etc.
  • Decreased motivation. Normally, us fitness buffs workout because we love it! It makes us feel energized and good about ourselves. But maybe you have been dreading every single workout these days, and simply drag yourself around the gym, going through the motions.
  • Hormone malfunction. This can come about in a bajillion ways: mood swings, acne, female TOM, hunger cues, energy levels, the list goes on. The best way that I can describe this is you just feel wrong. 

How are your workouts feeling this week? 

Have you ever experienced something similar? 

When It’s Time to Slow Down + Circuit Workout Roundup!

It is 110% necessary to start off this post CONGRATULATING the phenomenal Kara Goucher for an amazing race in NYC yesterday. It was her first marathon back after a stress fracture, the winds were absolutely insane (for a normal person…multiply that about 20x for the elite runners sprinting their faces off) and she ran an awesome race. No, she didn’t reach her goal of 2:28 – she ran 2:37, and her splits slowed down dramatically after the first half – BUT SHE RAN A FREAKING MARATHON. That in itself is beyond inspiring and I will never stop looking up to her!

karavia Kara’s Instagram

Back to real life – I love how I feel like I was just writing a post lamenting how it was already Monday – and here we are again! It’s okay though – after Tuesday, my week will calm down a TON, and I cannot wait to throw away all the weight that has been hanging over my head for weeks.

I’m reaching that wall in studying where there’s just not much more to do…don’t get me wrong – I don’t understand everything, far from it actually – but I can tell that I’ve reviewed as much as I can and I won’t be making any significant progress before tomorrow evening – so I’m throwing in the towel.

LazyMe to a T right now. Including the carrot. 

And now we get to talk about fun things! Hooray for fitness! Although, that was not my perspective on Friday. I was planning to run 8ish miles on Saturday and I literally could not think of anything more repulsive. The mere concept of working out, let alone a long run, made me want to throw up. Looking back on the past few weeks, I have definitely been working out hard, and it is time to take it back a notch! I wasn’t overtrained, but was absolutely on the way.

Symptoms of Overtraining (via Competitor)

  • Higher resting heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Increased fatigue
  • Low quality sleep

And there are also those whispers you get from your body, that are not to be ignored! For me, they came in the form of just not wanting to. I absolutely love fitness and exercise, so I know I’m not being lazy. My body legitimately needs to rest and recover!

I’m SO excited to bring back the bodyweight circuit workouts and short cardio sessions that previously didn’t feel like “enough”. Well, apparently all I needed was a tip from Heather to throw that mindset out the window!

Deuces-Running-+-Circuit-Workout1-781x1024I did this workout yesterday, and let me tell you, it was far from easy! My heart was beating out of my chest on that second set of pushups! 

It wasn’t that I was/am desperate to lose weight – I felt like because I’m not a huge partier/don’t have an all-consuming social life I “had” to focus my time/energy on fitness. No! Lies! I have lots of other things that I would rather focus on right now, especially as the weather turns to nonstop rain and all I want to do is curl up in a ball under a blanket.

1. I have a dream of starting my own magazine – and recently came up with an amazing idea to start the process! Expect a post on this coming up very soon. 🙂 🙂

2. Reading is good for the soul. It is such a productive hobby for something that feels like pure relaxation! I love increasing my vocabulary and sounding more intelligent in conversation.

books

3. I have this blog…you might have heard of it. I want to work even harder on Life’s A Runner. I spend a lot of time on it already, but I’m really interested in utilizing Twitter / Pinterest more, as well as making the site more user-friendly and organized. Blogging has a way of completely turning my mood around, so doing more of it is definitely on the agenda!

I think that the most important thing to take away is your fitness routine should excite you! The point is to enhance your life and your health – if it doesn’t, it is obviously not working for you, and something needs to change! For me, I cannot focus on the same thing too long. I’ll go through running phases, heavy lifting phases, and circuit phases – Going with the flow and listening to what my body is asking for makes me happy and energetic! It’s when I try to ignore those “whispers” that problems arise.

And with that, here are some of the workouts I have loved in previous “phases” and cannot wait to get back to!

1. 10-6 Workout via PB Fingers

10-to-6-workoutI raved about this workout last year!  One of my all-time favourites.

2. Upper body + Core Circuit via It’s Progression

Upper-Body-Core-Strength-Circuit-Workout

You end up with an 8 minute plank with this one! Love it. 

3. Victoria’s Secret Ab Model Workout via Blogilates

blogilatesabsI seriously never want to neglect my core strength when I do Cassie’s workouts! I completely forgot about them for awhile, but they are back in my life in a big way! I love the printable because I don’t have to feel awkward when there are other people in the gym – although I wonder what my roommate would think of Cassie as her new alarm? 😉 I kid. Maybe. 

This post has been completely all over the place so I’ll end it here – even though I could talk write for hours! Hope everyone’s Monday goes fabulously!

Do you go through workout phases?

Does your body tell you what style of workouts to choose? 

Weekly Training Update: Slowly Increasing Mileage

I have got to say, as painful as it is to up my running mileage sloooooowly, it is 200% paying off. I’m going into my fourth week of consistent running and I am SO grateful. I’ve said this before, but I feel like my entire running career has simply been on/off, and I have never been able to make any real, solid progress because of it. But times are a-changin’! I know that the 10% rule is controversial, but if anything else it keeps me from getting too overzealous so I’m sticking with it for now. This is how last week went down!

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 5 miles. This was a rather interesting morning. I ran to the gym in the pouring ran (~0.75 miles), spent 3.5 on the treadmill, then ran 0.75 back to my dorm. I’m sure I looked like quite a site, hopping on the treadmill at 6:30am appeared to be already covered in “sweat” (the joys of living in Vancouver). Every single step of this run felt so slow! I might as well have been sprinting on the treadmill at an 8:34 pace, and I don’t even want to know how fast I was going outside. But I RAN and that is what counts!

rain-runningPlus we all know I looked like this anyway. 🙂 

Wednesday: 6 miles @ 9:00. I have found a nice 3 mile loop that I like to do twice in the mornings. It’s great for when its too dark to see (at some points I literally cannot see the ground beneath my feet!) because I know I am not going to get lost.

Thursday: total body strength training. I worked out in the afternoon!! I know, I was shocked too. But I had so much energy after my class ended at 5pm and the last thing I felt like doing was going back to my room to do homework. So gym it was! I may do that more often – it made my day far more enjoyable. Instead of doing one of these workouts, I alternated between each using supersets!

UpperBodySupersetWorkout

 

[source.]

leg-workout

Friday: 3 miles @ 9:00. I barely even broke a sweat on this run! I so wanted to keep going. But I also wanted to feel great for my 10K race the next day, so I reigned myself in! Worth it. 🙂

Saturday: Great Trek 10K! I love running. ❤

Sunday: Total body strength training. So…my 3 x 10 105lb squats are starting to get easy…TIME TO UP THE WEIGHTS! I love getting stronger! Such an amazing feeling.

TOTAL: 22 miles of running and two strength workouts. Success!

How was your week? Do you squat? 

Please say yes.

WAY OUT THERE Bodyweight Workout

Have you ever had one of those days where you know you want to work out, but you have absolutely no clue what to do? That was me this morning. I had already run two days in a row, so I knew I didn’t want to do that – the torrential downpour confirmed it. Walking for 20 minuets to the gym in said downpour was juuust slightly unappealing, especially at dark o’clock in the morning when skunks are prowling the neighbourhood campus.

So what’s a girl to do? There is a box of a fitness center in the commons block where I live, but it’s hardly a gym. There is one treadmill, one elliptical, two incredibly horrendous bikes, and about five random weight machines. NO free weights / dumbbells / anything helpful. All of the bodyweight exercises and workouts I’ve found lately have sort of left me feeling…meh. You can only do so many air squats, am I right? So I ended up compiling the most exciting bodyweight exercises I’ve found into one incredibly fun workout!

I personally love moving every morning – it keeps me from getting antsy sitting in class all day, energizes me, and makes breakfast pretty darn delicious. I’m really happy to have found a workout I can do anytime, anywhere! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. 🙂

WAYOUTTHERE2

Some notes on the exercises:

  • Complete each bubble three times through, with ten reps of each exercise.
  • You don’t need to do 10 one minute planks! That is the only exercise in the entire workout that is its own rep – just do it three times, after the ten reps of the other exercises.

Planks with leg raise

Inchworms –> YES, that guy’s voice is super irritating! But it’s a good demo. 😉

Welp, I’m off to go study for the rest of my life a few hours. I hope you all have a wonderful day!

When is your favourite time to work out?